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Allergic to Grief

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to something?

I inadvertently used a shampoo that I am allergic to and my tonsils grew large and became sore. At first, I did not pay much attention thinking this was a small sore throat. As the day continued, my tonsils became so large that my air was obstructed. Then it dawned on me! It was shampoo! With this clarity, I took another shower to rinse out the shampoo, changed clothes, and took a Benadryl. By morning time my throat was now a small irritation.

So too with grief. First, you notice your body feeling fatigued, muscles feel tighter than usual and pain has found its place in your shoulders. You ignore these feelings believing they will go away. As your body deals with these stress reactions for longer periods of time now your chest feels heavy and aches. You wonder if this will overtake your heart. Then it becomes clear! Grief! With this new clarity, you are now able to mitigate your situation.

Here are 3 options you can consider that will help ease the body’s stress reaction that comes with grief.

1. Take a break! Just acknowledging that we have undergone a huge change in our lives and giving ourselves permission to relax has astronomical health benefits.

  • Give yourself permission to take a nap.

  • Create a calming place in your home where you can sit without thoughts of dishes, bills, or duty. This is where you can sit and just be, pray, and meditate.

  • Do calming exercises such as yoga, take a walk, or stretch. These activities relax muscles, ease tension, and create space for deep breathing.

2. Recognize your new roles. Not only have we lost a loved one, but we have lost a partner in daily activities. Take inventory of the many duties that your loved one graciously helped with. Write these down and find new ways of accomplishing these items.

  • My loved one use to make all my meals, now what? It could be time for some microwave dinners or going to the pre-made dishes at the market. A roasted chicken can go a long way in reducing this burden. Once you regain footing, learn how to cook one dish.

  • My loved one maintained everything outside, now what? Consider hiring someone or asking your church or neighbor to help for a time. Once you regain footing, have your neighbor show you how the lawnmower works.

  • My loved one kept track of all the finances, now what? Take a deep breath and find all the bills. Ask a trusted advisor to help you sort through them and show you how to pay one at a time.

3. Journal. Countless studies have found that the practice of journaling our thoughts and days eases stress and calms confusion. Give your grief a voice so you can express it and release it. Try writing down the answers to the following questions.

  • My grief feels like…

  • Grief shows up in the _____________ area of my body…

  • In the past, I have found __________ eases my stress.

  • One thing I will try today to ease my stress is…

Grief has a way of sneaking up on us and overwhelming our whole being. Clarity points us to make choices that will mitigate these strong reactions.

Your Turn

Do you ever feel like you are allergic to grief? What Benadryl will you treat your reactions with today?

For more ideas on how to navigate your loss check out my book: "RESTORED: A Self-Paced Grief Workbook for Your Journey from Loss to Life"

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